“So, we’re lost in the middle of London, and you don’t know where we are. Great,” my husband said, growing crankier by the second as we walked out of the Earl’s Court tube station.
We were on our first international trip together. At the time we were still engaged, and I had somehow convinced him that spending spring break in cloudy England would be a great idea.
“We just went out the wrong exit,” I tried to explain. “I know exactly where we are.”
London was the first place I visited outside the US, and it immediately became – and has stayed – my favorite city in the world (not that I have seen so many, but whatever). I was so excited to show Joe, the currently grouchy significant other, everything I loved about the city, and traveling in general. Before this trip, he had never traveled outside North America, or even his own time zone, and I hoped to show him how much traveling meant to me. But right now the jet lag was bearing down hard on him.
Joe grumbled and started following me, our carry-on suitcases jolting over uneven cracks in the sidewalk.
Thankfully, I navigated us back onto the main road, where the correct exit was located, and Joe didn’t have to complain anymore.
In my excitement for the trip I had scoped out the area on Google maps. There’s the adorable red mailbox with so much more character than our oblong navy ones in the US! Boots! In case we need to buy “plasters!” And look, on the corner! That pub is just a couple doors down from where we’re staying, and according to the online reviews they have really good pies! Everything was wonderful again.
Until we got to the door of our hotel, locked, and had to wait for about thirty minutes. Joe, looking more frustrated than before, didn’t trust himself to speak.
The rest of the day passed in waves – fun and exhaustion, irritation and blisters, clouds and rain. In an attempt to help Joe beat his jet lag slump, we walked around the city. Buckingham Palace, the Thames, Monument, St James’ Park. It wasn’t enough, and we headed back for a nap in the afternoon. I woke him up to get dinner around 6 – pies at the pub – and we both nearly fell asleep at the table. It was pitiful.
Fortunately, the rest of the trip was uphill from there. We saw a show, visited museums, drank porters and stouts after rainy days, laughed in the frigid wind blowing off the Thames as people in The City hurried to work, tried a British Chinese buffet, and looked at the city laid out tidily beneath our feet from a cozy bubble on the London Eye.
I hoped that would have been the first of many international trips for us, but since then we’ve only traveled to one other country together, on our honeymoon. I’m trying to convince him to pack a bag and jump on a plane with me again – I’m thinking somewhere cold and cozy this winter – but he’s such a homebody. He really needs to be forced, not nudged, out of his comfort zone.
If I can guilt him into traveling with me again, it’ll be a “guilt trip.” Ha!